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Active Threads


Exhibition: May 8 to September 19, 2021

Curator: Julia Höner

The international group exhibition Active Threads at KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION inquires into the social and political relevance of textiles today. It explores how textile fabrics still function as extremely effective means of communication, even in our present digital era. Within this specific context, the exhibition touches upon geopolitical conflicts, latent and obvious postcolonial wounds and examples of civil protest, but also motifs drawn from fan culture. It thus becomes evident in just how many ways textiles can serve as catalysts of societal and cultural processes.

Textiles are to be found in all parts of the world. They form extensive networks, in which historical trade routes and individual biographies manifest themselves, just as the discriminating consequences of capitalism. In addition, textile fabrics serve as a transcultural archetype of social cohesion within a society – not least due to the fact that textile structures are based on the ties between individual threads that only together produce a durable fabric. The socially meaningful role of textile materials also becomes apparent in clothing, whose function as a kind of second skin via which we communicate is a familiar phenomenon. However, this exhibition focusses more on the less obvious, everyday and politically charged situations, in which textile fabrics attain social relevance, for example, by lending a voice to those who are otherwise speechless. Textiles connect humans and things, network cultures and geographies, interweave what is unrelated or destroyed. They create identity and community, and promote collective experiences. But textiles also play a role when ingrained conceptions of society and political systems are being called into question. The exhibition illustrates in which form textile fabrics and techniques can transport political messages, how decoration transforms into radical symbolism and how fabrics support memories or preserve our material environment. In their works – including handcrafted or industrially produced woven artefacts, hand-stitched works, installations, gouaches and painted fabric banners – the eight international artists challenge the frequently used metaphor of the “social fabric” and reflect today’s forms of societal coexistence and solidarity.

Supported by


Accompanying program

, since 11 am

Active Threads: Video Welcome

Video Welcome by Julia Höner, Artistic Director KAI10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION

since May 8, 2021 on: & Instagram @kai10_arthenafoundation

, 12 – 8 pm

Active Threads: LONG SATURDAY

1 pm: Welcome by Julia Höner, Artistic Director KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION

Conversational tour through the exhibition with Julia Höner und Sabine Maria Schmidt, curator of Examination of a case. Pop and Politics in Contemporary Textile Arts at Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz.

1-6 pm: Ice cream for everyone from Eis Licious, Düsseldorf

, 7 pm

Active Threads: WHAT IS AT HAND | Thoughts on Textile Activism

KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION cordially invites you to a lecture by Leena Crasemann and Anne Röhl (in German).

The use of textile materials and techniques in activist protests and contemporary art is currently experiencing a boom. As textiles are always "at hand", they were always predestined to be a political means of expression in art and society. Referring to the discussion on "textile politics" (J. Bryan-Wilson) and "craftivism" (B. Greer), the lecture concerns not only the critical potential of textile handicrafts but also the basic textile-work actions of rolling out, unfolding and spreading out.

, 2 pm

Active Threads: Artists talk

On the occasion of the group exhibition Active Threads, curator Julia Höner talks to artists Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa and Cian Dayrit about their work and the significance of fabric and textile techniques in the context of political statements. The conversation will be held in English.

Public guided tours


Public guided tours | 3 pm: 27.06.2021, 04.07.2021, 18.07.2021, 01.08.2021, 15.08.2021, 29.08.2021, 12.09.2021

Please book an appointment

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